Many people start the New Year with a fresh slate. To help keep you on track with your new goals, you need tools and systems. We asked our experts to share with us (and you) their top 3 “must have” tools for running their businesses!
- A strong scheduling program. I use Acuity and it allows me to create different appointment types and send my clients to a customized link so that they can schedule appointments with me. This has saved me a ton of time going back and forth with them to schedule calls and in-person meetings.
- A social media scheduler. I love Meet Edgar. It manages my social media content for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This helps ensure that my business is present on social media all the time – even when I am not able to be there posting live myself.
- Mileage tracking program. The number one thing I always forgot to track was my mileage, until MileIQ came around. It’s an app that you can install on your phone and it tracks all of your commutes and you simply swipe left or right depending on whether it’s a personal or business commute. It’s saved me a ton of money at tax time!
- If I could only choose one tool with which to run my business it would easily be GSuite. I can easily and professionally reach clients, create and store files, and manage my calendar all in one place and from any device. It’s simple to use, available on the go, and reasonably priced.
- When you work from home, it’s really easy to get stuck inside your own bubble rather than staying visible. *Zoom* allows me to virtually meet with my clients face to face without actually having to have 20 cups of coffee a week. It’s much easier to build relationships, avoid misinterpretations, and close sales. With this platform I’m able to record meetings, host webinars, stream on social media and more.
- Clickfunnels allows me to market and sell my products and services online without having to outsource a thing. With only decent tech-skills, I’m able to build and design my only landing pages and sales pages, and create and manage an email list. I love the simplicity of being able to analyze my client-experience all in one place.
*A Television Dashboard* This lets me know when I’m falling behind on calling leads, posting marketing content, or simply dragging on quotas for social media interaction. It’s like a cockpit for WAH professionals.
*Call Routing Software* It’s critical that people be able to reach you by phone when you work from home. Call routing software allows you to configure calls to follow you wherever you are and on any device.
*Amazon Key* Nothing is more distracting that a knock at the door by a delivery person. Amazon key allows packages to be dropped off inside your house so you can say productive without any distractions.
QuickBooks – Anyone who follows me knows I dislike bookkeeping. A lot! Disliking doesn’t change the fact that it is a key component to every business’s success. Having an excellent bookkeeping system is a must. There is something else which cannot be overlooked when it comes to choosing your bookkeeping software, invoicing and collecting payment. Without a way to keep track of my cash flow, business expenses, the ability to easily invoice and collect payment I would not be able to stay in business. This is exactly why I use Quickbooks.
WordPress – Every business needs a website. Period. Not every business does and in this day in age, there is no excuse. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extensive. You need a website to prove you’re a real business. It’s a formality, but a very important one. I like WordPress for growth and functionality. The ability for you to grow your website with WordPress in unprecedented. Other sites can be limiting and not work well with other partners to accept payments, link sites, plug-ins, have limited themes, and don’t have the same SEO options. I’ve found my clients who started off using other sites eventually have to transfer to WordPress.
ConvertKit – You work hard to gain a following so you need to have a way to keep in touch with them. There’s no substitute for a good system which allows you to easily and effectively communicate with your audience. I chose ConvertKit because it is extremely user-friendly. It’s intuitive and there is almost no learning curve. Importing, tagging, sending client specific emails all can be done easily. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. Another key factor is that I’m only charged for the size of my email list.
Zoom: This online video meeting tool is the most consistent for video and sound quality even on slower connections with many participants. There are useful features that allow us to record meetings, create meeting links and user hierarchies to assign accessibility. This has been the best tool to get the next best form of communication after in-person.
YaWare: An incredible time-tracking tool that takes random screenshots of
a remote workers work session to make sure they are on-track and categorizes their work. This tool has made managing remote working seamless and possible on a large scale.
KPI System: We use Google Drive to automate our KPIs for the whole company and each team. Each KPI is tracked on a daily basis and is transparent to every team member. This enables team members to collaborate to maximize or minimize KPIs for the betterment of the end-user’s experience.
Dashlane – Using a program to manage passwords saves me a tremendous amount of time and helps my workflow remain smooth and uninterrupted.
Toggl – This web or phone app is perfect for keeping track of time you spend on projects. Essential if you bill by the hour, but also helpful to use to understand how long it takes to complete small tasks or large projects. Tracking your time can help you control your time.
Slack – Working remotely usually leads to a bursting inbox as you communicate with other people. Slack allows you to communicate with partners, team members, or co-workers without all the messages hitting your inbox.
A good contact management system (CRM). If your business is growing (or you want it to), you’ll need a way to track prospects, clients and opportunities. A CRM will have reminders so you won’t have to rely on your memory or a stack of Post-It Notes.
A project or task management system. Having your work organized with clear deadlines and reminder notifications can help you stay focused and on track. A project management system can do that and there are great options for all price points. Asana is my favorite, while Trello is also popular with many of my clients. Both are available for free.
An email marketing system. If you are sending marketing emails to your list, you need to have permission to market to them. An email marketing system will handle that for you – getting people on your list where they belong, with permission – AND they can opt-out when they choose, which will help ensure that you are in compliance with email marketing laws. MailChimp is great, you can start for free and have plenty of room for growth.
Find the best communication tool- Your business email will of course be an invaluable tool for formal communication, but I’ve found that Slack is just as important. It enables you to communicate quickly and across departments without wasting time on the formality of an email. Especially when you’re working from home, Slack can help you to stay in the loop with the daily developments of your company.
Find a scheduling tool that works for you – Let’s face it: It can be hard to stay focused when you’re working from home, and the smallest things can easily distract you. A scheduling tool of some sort can help you maximize productivity and stay focused on the most important things everyday. For some this might mean using an agenda everyday. Others might require more advanced task management systems like Trello to help coordinate efforts across different stages. The key is to find something that works well for you, something that holds you accountable for what your accomplish everyday.
Note from Leslie:
Tools and systems are needed for most aspects of your home-based career. For me, my top tools help either keep me on track or help me get things done faster or automatically. To that end, my faves are:
- Planner: I’ve moved to a bullet journal so I can create the planner, tracker, to-do system that works the way I do.
- Social Media tools: I use CoSchedule here at WAHS to schedule my posts at the time I write them. I also use Hootsuite and Tailwind for other sites.
- WordPress to manage all my websites. I can work ahead and schedule for posting later.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own.
View complete details on WAHS' privacy and disclosures.